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Feedback from School meals survey and the chance to star in a school meals video (and have the chance to win £250)

(25 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Nov-09 10:03:11

A while ago we asked you to take part in a survey about school meals for the School Food Trust. Below is some feedback from them, plus a call to action for anyone who'd like to appear in a video, giving their views on School meals past and present. First the feedback:

The School Food Trust found the survey feedback really useful and it will be used by them to help continue to improve the school meal service. They said, and we quote:
"Firstly, we were really pleased that 2/3rds of you have noticed an improvement in the quality of school food in the last couple of years. A lot has changed in recent years. Nowadays, there are teams of experts working to make sure that school foods are healthy, exciting, tasty and nutritious and school cooks have training available to help them develop and cook better meals.

Fear not though! We know that we still have a lot of work to do. We know that all children are different and that the school meals service differs throughout the country, so we are currently rolling out a wide range of pilots to test different tools and techniques to improve the school meal experience We?re doing all of this, because our research shows that children?s performance at school is closely linked with their nutrition. Our goal is to make the school meal service as happy and enjoyable an experience as possible for your child, and a worry-free option for you." (end quote)

If you'd like to add to the feedback you offered in the survey, or if you didn't manage to complete the survey but have something you want to say about the school meals service in your area, please feel free to add it here.

Now the movie star bit

The School Food Trust would like to put together a short, fun, promotional video, made up of Mumsnetters' comments on school meals (and ideally why they like them, though feel free to add negative comments, as well as comments from your own experience of school meals... spam fritters is my main memory). It could be anything from - "I love school meals because not making packed lunches means an extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning" (and we really hope someone says this as it's one of our fave reasons) to "I like the fact that my child gets a hot meal" or " I think they should be made to eat spam fritters like I was..."(not that I'm indelibly scarred...)

They've come to Mumsnet for this because MNers are known for being down to earth and also wickedly funny grin and we know you won't let us down Everyone who sends a video of themselves talking about school meals will be entered into a prize draw to win £250. If you think you might be interested in taking part, please click here for more information.

And now, over to you for you additional comments on the school meals service.



GeeWhizz Mon 09-Nov-09 11:58:37

As it is National School Meals week our Governors have been invited to lunch on Wednesday.

Will let you know my thoughts once I have ate my meal. DD5 is excited as she is having a school meal for the first time (very fussy eater).

PrettyCandles Mon 09-Nov-09 12:04:44

The biggest improvement in school meals since I was a child, is the lack of stewed rhubarb with custard (boak!). Oh and that children are no longer bullied into finishing their plateful, every spoonful laced with the snot that dribbled from their nose into the rhubarb and custard as they sat crying over it for half an hour.

flashharriet Mon 09-Nov-09 12:22:23

Is there any chance of more detailed feedback? This is very vague considering how many questions were asked.

Hunting Mon 09-Nov-09 12:51:19

PrettyCandles - a while ago dd cried at home wanting to go onto packed lunches because she said & i quote "The dinner ladies put too much on my plate and then when i go to the bin when I've finished they make me go back and eat it all."

This upset me too tbh, dd has a very tiny appetite at lunchtime (on weekends she sometimes doesn't even have lunch, manages on (healthy) snacks instead till teatime. So she's been on packed lunches ever since (and god knows what the dinner ladies think of what I put in (amounts wise!) but at least they leave her alone.) It's a pity because just recently she's been deliberating over whether to go back onto school dinners because "They have such nice stuff sometimes!" grin

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Nov-09 13:29:15


Will see if I can work out how to put the results up... may take a while

edam Mon 09-Nov-09 13:58:45

How do I get in touch with the School Meals Trust? Would like to find out how I can persuade ds's school to start providing them - head is very resistant despite 97% of parents voting for to introduce hot dinners.

Stumbling block is we'd have to build a kitchen or have them shipped in, but plenty of schools do have them cooked elsewhere and the senior school next door has kitchens - I'm sure they or another local school could help but head muttered something about nowhere to keep the trolleys. hmm

PrettyCandles Mon 09-Nov-09 15:06:08

That's sad, Hunting. My impression is purely from my dc's schools. I know they have a policy of putting a bit of everything on the plate so that the child tries everything, but at the same time, they are willing to compromise. So for a child who hates peas, for example, they might only put a tiny spoonful of peas, but give them extra carrots.

The cook at ds's school told me that she knows ds doesn't like a lot of the food, but she has seen him making an effort to try everuthing, so, rather than let him go hungry, he should tell her if he really can't eat anything and she will try to find something for him.

If your dd is a willing eater, and it's just a matter of quantity, why not have a discussion with her teacher, and see whether the school will compromise and allow her to have small portions.

Edam: our infant school trolleys hot dinners over from the nearby junior school. The only things hthey have to find storage for are the serving tables that they use to keep the food hot. It's a little school, very tightly packed, but they've managed to find a corner under a staircase.

Hunting Mon 09-Nov-09 20:15:45

Thanks for the advice, PrettyCandles.
I don't really want to expect the school to know exactly how each child eats their lunch, though it would be great if they could give dd small portions. I know a big plate of food intimidates her a bit but tbh i think she would probably have been fine with that if only they'd just let her get on with it.

Maybe it is worth talking to them about it, explain why dd stopped and that she's thinking of going back but that's what's stopping her...would be interesting to see what they say.

edam Mon 09-Nov-09 22:22:27

Thanks Pretty, that's really interesting. Our head seems very anti the whole idea - I think she's finding excuses. Will only be happy if the govt. and council give us hundreds of thousands to build a new kitchen which ain't gonna happen any time soon.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Nov-09 22:37:37

Survey results summary coming soon and will get contact for school meals trust Hunting.

Anyone up for the video thing?

CarGirl Mon 09-Nov-09 22:53:04

sadly not Carrie because I can only say how great the meals are and how much my dds love on the 2 occasions a year they get them because I can't afford them!!

flashharriet Tue 10-Nov-09 09:10:25

Thanks Carrie, appreciate that. Sorry I can't do the video as we don't have hot meals angry

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 10-Nov-09 09:35:46

Hi there

CarGirl - that's a really interesting point about cost. I know there have been experiments in some districts giving everyone free school meals, presumably you'd welcome that?

Anyway, here are some headline results from survey we ran in Sept. 1088 parents with a school aged child in the UK completed it and all respondents answered the survey thinking about one specific child - most (92%) of children were aged 11 and under.

Just under half say their child normally has school meals; just over half have packed lunch

Over 1/3 say the decision over whether to have a school meal or packed lunch is taken jointly between parents and child; 1/4 say mum decides; 1/5 say parents jointly decide. Overall about half of children are involved in this decision

Average number of days taking school meal is 15/30

The top two reasons for having a school meal – saves parents time in not making packed lunch and parents think it is beneficial to have hot lunch

The top two reasons for not having a school meal (everyday) – child doesn’t like the food and too expensive

Main aspects that would encourage higher take up of school meals – reduction in price, more choice and more information about meals

Cost of school meal estimated at £1.87, estimated cost of packed lunch is £1.44

2/3 have noticed difference in school meals in last 2 years – main two differences - school meal now healthier and parents told more about meals

Overall half think school meals are now better than when they were a child – especially better health/ nutrition and variety of food

Please keep the comments coming and if you know anyone who'd like to do something on video (and be in with a chance of winning £250) please pass the word on.



GeeWhizz Wed 11-Nov-09 13:32:30

So I have eaten school dinner today and I thought it was okay.

We had roast pork, roast potato and peas which was eaten up by most children on my table.

Apple pie and custard was unfortunately not that popular but all the custard was gone. I had seconds!!

popmum Wed 11-Nov-09 14:00:36

I'd like to say I wish they actually served the food on the menu they give out - so many times I could say to my dd did you have x today? to be told, no as it had run out or wasn't offered.
they also gave us a couple of their recipes - one was for traditional chicken pie - it sounded horribe - shortdrust pastry on the bottom, filling of boiled chicken with onion and a bechemal (sp) sauce then puff pastry on top, not at all nutritios IMO.
Generally I am happy though - esp as I don't want to me making a packed lunch everyday.
I am also looking forward to the dinner ladies sorting my non eating ds out when he starts school meals next sept!!

Pvde Thu 12-Nov-09 15:55:58

The school meals served at my son's infant school are excellent. He has school meals twice a week and packed lunches three times a week. The only negative is that they cost £2 a day and it can get quite expensive to have them every day especially as my second child starts reception next year and the cost will be doubling for us.

IvanaDK Thu 12-Nov-09 19:26:02

I received the leaflet from the School Food Trust the School Food Trust along with an invitation to have school lunch with my dd who is in Reception. She loves school dinners, she has them every Friday. I am a bit reluctant to get her on more school dinners as I don't agree with having pudding every day. So I was very happy to be invited so I could taste it for my self.

I had read the leaflet with great interest, there were a lot of facts that I wasn't aware of, like school dinners are a lot healthier than most children's packed lunches (this proved to be true for our school, as I walked to my seat I was shocked to see what the kids took out of their lunch bags - tons of biscuits, sugary yoghurts, crisps etc).

My dd was very exited to have me there - she loves it and thinks it's a restaurant, she said to me "Mummy, I'm going to order pudding", and she's on first name basis with all the dinner ladies ;)

It was really very nice. It was roast turkey with the trimmings. The turkey was not dry as expected, the gravy was not lumpy, the yorkshire puddings were gorgeous and the apple crumble and custard was not heavy n sugar at all.

My dd is a real foodie, so it was almost expected when she won the draw out of those whose parents had turned up (4) for a full week of free school lunches. She was really pleased, and we agreed that she could have pudding every other day that wee, the other days she could have yoghurt and fruit. She did as we agreed.

I must admit, my dd's lunch bag is very different to the other kids. She has a wholemeal sandwich, a natural yoghurt, a small tupperware box with cucumber and red peppers and a Babybell cheese. No crisps or sweets. She is still too little to complain ;) Also, she's the kind of child that goes hyper on sugar, so we have to keep the sugar intake low.

One thing I don't understand though is that our school is a "healthy school". This means that they provide a healthy fruit snack every day, that the children can't have sugary drinks or sweets in their packed lunches. But they can have pudding with school dinners and biscuits and cake in their packed lunches? I mean, to me sugar is sugar, no matter how you disguise it!

I think £2 is very reasonable for a school dinner. But looking at the packed lunches it might be a good idea if school dinners were free - a lot of kids would probably halve their daily sugar intake.

mellie Fri 13-Nov-09 09:58:00

My DD's have been having school meals for 6 years now and for the last 5 years i've been able to sample them at least termly at the hugely popular 'family lunch' days that the infant school ran. They have definately improved in terms of the nutritional value and both DDs generally enjoy whats on offer. Older DD (9) especially likes the changing menu and given the boring old stuff i routinely churn out at home, the chance to try new things!

Things they moan about relate more to the lunch system in place at the school, i.e. they get less playtime than the packed lunch people as they have to queue up for ages; when they are last in the line items have often run out and school veg it seems are destined to forever be soggy and lifeless...

I am also astounded when i hear that many kids (jnr school) chuck most of their meal away and just eat the pud. The infant school used to firmly encourage eating up, this obviously doesn't happen at the jnr school!

winestein Fri 13-Nov-09 23:06:24

Hunting - that's awful.

I did a couple of days volunteer dinner-ladying at my son's school - I often work from home so it was no great shakes to go in at lunch and it was very interesting to see what actually happens at my DS's school. What I found was no-one was made to eat anything - at all. What was left was binned. When they had finished the children said so and the plate was taken away, which I think is excellent (certainly compared to my memory of being made to eat foul greasy food to get pudding).

What was grim was the actual food compared to what was shown on the website each day. The website showed the food as looking (and sounding) lovely. The reality was neither. My son is not a fussy eater at all, but he often told me he didn't like the food, and after seeing it first hand I could understand why. He asked for packed lunches and, quite frankly, I didn't blame him - it takes more effort in terms of preparation times and then subsequently making him a hot dinner rather than a sandwich or beans on toast or whatever, but after seeing what he was given, there is no way I would make him eat it after seeing it.

In summary, I think the LEA's are providing false information to parents. I would be prepared to bet a pound to a pinch of the proverbial that the "family day" meals reflect reality about as much as the websites do.

Carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Mar-10 21:22:29

Just a heads up that the final school food trust video is up and running here and here.

Do have a look (it's v short) and tell us what you think


mustrunmore Mon 22-Mar-10 18:55:33

Lol, oh no, I'm on it but the kids arent!

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Mar-10 20:44:20

MustRunMore - what did you think?

mustrunmore Tue 23-Mar-10 07:44:11

I think its very short! Its good, a bit predictable in just having kids mentioning a food item each in quick succession, but I guess that gets the point across, and if all the kids material was like my kids, I'm not suprised thats all you had to work with!
I think I'll have to really rewatch it and think about the content of what the adults say if you want any valuable comments from me. Getting kids ready for school at the mo! I'll also have to think about whether any of the content would actually change a parents mind about school dinners, or whether its more to implant a suggestion in their mind! Without rewatching, I dont remeber seeing any fleeting shots of food, which wouldve been a good visual for people who dont listen grin

champagnesupernova Tue 23-Mar-10 18:24:55

I was really surprised at how many different options there were
It certainly wasn't that many in my day
I also thought the 3 minutes a term paying online versus 10 minutes a day making the blessed things.
It was very thought provoking

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